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Ireland Discusses Role With BrandSource

Orlando, Fla. – Kathy
Ireland, wife, mother, CEO and chief designer of the $1.5 billion Kathy Ireland
Worldwide (the 23rd most powerful licensed brand in the world), is now the
brand ambassador for BrandSource, and made her first appearance for the group
at The Summit, here, on Monday.

Ireland will be
used in an advertising campaign that should break by midyear, as well as
product exclusives for Brand Source, which could include “detergents, floor
coverings and others …  products that are
solution-oriented,” Bob Lawrence, CEO of Brand Source, told TWICE.

But plans are
sketchy at this point since Ireland just signed on two weeks ago and her
involvement was only announced last week by the group. Initially BrandSource
will be able to emphasize products that are already being carried by group
suppliers like Bush, Shaw Living and others that carry the Kathy Ireland

Ireland called
BrandSource “an iconic brand” in major appliances and CE. Lawrence said she was
“kind to say that, and with her help, it will happen, but more work needs to be

BrandSource had
been looking for a brand ambassador for a while and wanted “someone that made
sense … that matched our philosophy. We think with Kathy and the BrandSource
brand our dealers will be able to connect all the dots and make a transition,
make a quantum leap. If we can outsell and outperform the big-box stores, we
can be an iconic brand.”

Ireland can attract
a younger demographic to BrandSource and more women to its member stores.

philosophy is “finding a solution for families and moms,” and her products’ key
demographic is 18- to 49-year olds with a slight drop off of 45. That is a
clear improvement from BrandSource’s demographic, whose most popular group is
the 65-and-older crowd.

Ireland has been
described as “a best friend to busy moms,” and she noted, “If women buy our
products, it’s not about my name. If they know my name, from my modeling days
in the previous century, they may know products we support, and when they like
them we earn their trust. I always say our team — that has been with me for 20
years — has the toughest boss in the world, demanding moms.”

And, she said in
her remarks to BrandSource members, “Fame does not equal brand equity.”

When asked about
the perception that the CE and major appliance businesses are still a “good old
boys” club, Ireland said, “When I got involved with the furniture industry I
heard the same thing. I’m not afraid of working and communicating with the industry,
and I’m not intimidated by electronics or technology.”

In her role as
brand ambassador, Ireland said she “hopes to learn a lot from [BrandSource] members to find out what they are looking for and what challenges they are

And again, from her
remarks to BrandSource members, Ireland said, “I am very competitive. We are
here to win.”

She added, “We
want to get the message out there about fashion and quality. We want to sell home
security and solar [energy] products with you. You are the biggest business of
them all — you provide service that the big boxes never can. They will never
be able to compete with the independent retailer on that.”

Comments like that
must be music to the ears of embattled independent retailers especially after
the economic downturn of the past 2.5 years.